I am a huge fan of sports drafts. Yes, on one hand they are an unfair labor practice that takes away most choice and options from the players. On the other hand, they are a time of great hope and every team adds pieces that maybe someday will become the fans new favorite player. But to be fully honest I am way out of my element with the MLB draft.
Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy it (this year in particular with any relevant sports things few and far between). Reading everything that Scott, JT, Brad, Austin, Victor, and Danny put out over the days leading up to and during the draft is a joy and I get to learn so much. The learning is the key part here because when it comes to draft prep or knowledge of the players selected I am just about the lowest on the whole DRB masthead in terms of who you should turn to for draft analysis.
So that being said, here’s my wildly unhelpful Rays draft analysis pick by pick:
1. RHP Nick Bitsko - I actually knew this name before he was picked! Bitsko is super neat pitcher who did super neat things self promoting with his Trackman and Rapsodo data. I very much look forward to doing a multi part deep dive into his fastball’s spin rates a few years from now!
1A. SS Alika Williams - He was previously selected by the Yankees in 2017, he is apparently a fantastic defensive SS, makes a lot of contact, gets on base, and is pesky enough to not strike out all that much, so all that math adds up to being the physical incarnation of what the New York media believed Derek Jeter was.
2. LHP Ian Seymour - I’ve heard a Ryan Yarbrough comp thrown around for Seymour. I really like Ryan Yarbrough. I would gladly take another. Also he went to Virginia Tech, the same school as Erik Neander. Coincidence? Yes.
3. RHP Hunter Barnhart - One of the very tricky but fascinating parts of this years draft is how each team is having to make selections sometimes based on limited info, small sample improvements, and projections. High school players starting out super hot in the first few games like Barnhart, showcasing a new pitch or some new wrinkle that emerges, and then abruptly having their seasons end due to the pandemic leaves some big challenges to front offices and scouting departments to find the signal through the noise.
4. SS Tanner Murray - The Rays did a fantastic job drafting absolutely top graded baseball names, and Tanner Murray is at least 70 grade baseball name you can hang your mitt on. He was also a 3 sport athlete in high school, playing baseball, basketball, and football.
5. RHP Jeffery Hakanson - Born in Tampa, attended Jesuit HS, and went to UCF (joining fellow proud alums on the Rays are hitting coach Chad Mottola and ace beat reporter Juan Toribio). I mean, I just learned about this guy, but already I’m definitely gonna root for the local hero’s extreme success.
Final Verdict: I give the Rays draft 8 thumbs up!
- Winners, losers, takeaways from Day 1 of 2020 MLB Draft - Michael Bradburn, The Score: Rays score Bradburn’s biggest steal of round 1.
- Rays don’t see first-round draft pick Nick Bitsko, 17, as a gamble - Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times
- Pitchers Seymour, Barnhart lead TB’s Day 2 haul - Juan Toribio, MLB.com
- Remember this guy? Jesuit alum Jeff Hakanson is Rays’ final pick in MLB draft - Mari Faiello, Tampa Bay Times
- C.B. East pitcher Nick Bitsko, a Tampa Bay Rays first-round draft pick, moved up a year and it paid off - Marc Narducci, The Philadelphia Inquirer
- Draft is example of how Rays are Spock of the MLB - Seth Carter, Rays Colored Glasses